Taco Tuesday is something I take very seriously. Whether it’s a breakfast taco, a fish taco, or a dollar taco from my local mexican restaurant, I do my best to celebrate somehow every week. Although there have been a lot of good tacos in my day, a few weeks ago I made what might have been some of my best tacos yet.
One of the chefs who inspires me the most is Samin Nosrat, the author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Watch her show, read her book, check out her podcast – she is wonderful.
During the quarantine days of 2020, I saw Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix and decided to give it a try. I’d already seen the Tiger King and was ready to watch something slightly less outlandish. I found myself completely captivated as Samin broke down each key element of cooking and tried some incredible looking food around the world.
Some of the elements were things I’d already started to understand on a basic level. A little bit of salt somehow made avocado toast taste even better, using different types of oils helped me impart more authentic flavors onto different dishes, and the application of heat could be used to get a perfect egg-in-a-hole with toasted bread and a runny yolk.
The show took me even deeper into understanding all of these areas, but acid was a something I’d never really thought about. It’s not an element that gets a lot of emphasis in American cooking.
I wanted to apply this newfound knowledge of acid to one of my favorite dishes: Tacos!
So I set out to do just that. A few weeks ago, I made the most amazing tacos. The lineup was citrus marinated chicken, a yogurt based sauce, pickled red onions (check out that recipe), tomatillo, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
That means we got acid in the chicken, acid from the greek yogurt, acid from the vinegar used in pickling, the acid from tomatillo, and of course the acidity in lime juice. All of the different acids layered on top of each other created a super flavorful taco (or tostada) that I would make again in a heartbeat.
Consider this a bonus recipe.
This creamy yogurt sauce incorporates many flavors found in traditional Mexican cuisine, and it only takes a minute to pull it together.
- 5.3 oz cup of plan, non-fat Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
- Zest of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 tsp honey
- Pinch of ancho chili powder
- Salt to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Add all ingredients to the yogurt cup, mix with a spoon, and adjust seasoning levels to taste.
Aaaand that’s it. How simple is that?
And now on to the main event, the chicken.
You may be wondering why on earth I marinated this chicken in lime and clementine juice of all things. While watching the Acid episode, I was intrigued by a dish where a whole bird was marinated in juice from limes and sour oranges and wanted to attempt something similar.
However, I’ve never seen a sour orange and have no idea where to find those in Ohio, so some adjustments had to be made. What I did have lots of were clementines. They were on sale a few weeks in a row at Kroger, and like any good Midwesterner, I hate to pass up a sale.
Beyond that, I needed a marinade that would be less acidic than straight lime and clementine juice. The meat would be soaking all day while I was at work, and chicken shouldn’t be in a very acidic marinade for more than a couple hours. To combat this, I added some olive oil and a little bit of water.
The result was juicy, delicious chicken that was perfect for our tacos
- ~3 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
- Juice of 2 limes
- Juice of 2 clementines
- Optional: Tomatillo juice
- 2 tsp salt
- 2-3 tsp ancho chili powder
- Cayenne pepper (a good sprinkle)
- Cloves (a couple tiny dashes)
- 1/4 c olive oil
- A bit of water to submerge chicken
- Use a meat mallet or rolling pin (or a hot sauce bottle or empty wine bottle) to lightly beat the the chicken thighs and even out the thickness.
- Add all of the ingredients to to a bowl with the chicken and make sure the chicken is submerged. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge, allowing the chicken to marinate throughout the day (~8 hours).
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and allow it to sit at room temp for short time prior to cooking (this will help it to cook more evenly).
- Heat a pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly oil the surface (I used corn oil) then place the chicken on the hot pan. Allow it to cook on one side for 6-7 minutes prior to flipping. Then cook it for 6 more minutes or until it is cooked all the way through.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into bite sized pieces.
Serve in a corn tortilla or on a warm tostada and enjoy this riled up Taco Tuesday experience.